Dr Cindy Pan Cold and Flu Interview
Sigma Pharmaceuticals, the parent-company of Amcal and Guardian Pharmacy have commissioned some consumer research into cold & flu and respiratory, which we thought might spark your interest. Some interesting findings include:
Close to a third (29%) of the population is affected by cold & flu 2 or more times a year
Australians prefer to get the flu shot (22%) to fend off cold & flu over taking daily Vitamin C supplements (5%)
One in 6 (16%) Australians experience some form of asthma
More than four-fifths (84%) of asthma sufferers say that their symptoms worsen during the cold/flu and allergy seasons
One in five asthmatics will get the flu shot to prevent their asthma worsening when they have a cold
More than a third (35%) of asthmatics forget to take their preventer medicine as prescribed
More than one in ten (12%) asthma sufferers prefer a quick fix and use their reliever medicine instead of their preventer as they feel it's more effective
Interview with Amcal Health Ambassador, Dr Cindy Pan
Question: Are you surprised that 29% of the population is affected by cold & flu 2 or more times a year?
Dr Cindy Pan: No, colds and flus are common and affect us all from time to time, some years more often than others.
Question: What advice do you have for us to avoid winter colds?
Dr Cindy Pan: Simple hygiene measures such as washing your hands; avoiding touching your nose, eyes and mouth; and keeping a wide berth of people who are coughing and sneezing can all help. Looking after your general health - such as with a nutritious diet, regular moderate exercise and minimising stress - can help in terms of maintaining a good immune system.
Question: What is the difference between cold and flu symptoms?
Dr Cindy Pan: Both are fairly common viral illnesses and they have some symptoms in common but typically cold symptoms are predominantly 'above the neck' (so things like runny nose, sore throat and sneezing) whereas flu symptoms may be more generalised with fever, muscle and joint pains, fatigue and so on affecting you all over, in addition to the sore throat, cough and respiratory symptoms. Flu symptoms also typically have a more sudden onset where the sufferer can often pinpoint the precise moment when they went from feeling fine to feeling like they had been 'hit by a truck'.
Question: And, can you share your top flu-fighting tips?
Dr Cindy Pan: Fluids, rest and TLC! If things seem to be getting worse rather than better and you are concerned, see your pharmacist or GP for assessment and advice.
Question: If we do end up sick; how can we battle through?
Dr Cindy Pan: Ideally take some time off work and have a rest. This will assist your recovery as well as hopefully minimise the risk of spreading your infection to all your workmates. You can manage your symptoms and make yourself more comfortable while you recover by using simple over the counter remedies such as gargles, lozenges, nasal saline spray and cold and flu medications. If in doubt, don't hesitate to discuss with your pharmacist or GP what might be most appropriate for your individual circumstances.
Question: How affective is the flu shot?
Dr Cindy Pan: The flu vaccine will very effectively protect you against the three to four specific strains of influenza virus that it is designed to prevent. Each year the three or four most virulent strains of influenza are identified and the flu vaccine is created to prevent those. The vaccine will not stop you from getting other strains of influenza and certainly will not prevent colds which are caused by different families of viruses. However it is still highly valuable and worthwhile to protect yourself against the very worst strains of flu each year so at least you will not succumb to those!
Question: What foods or supplements should we increase in winter to avoid the winter-sniffles?
Dr Cindy Pan: At all times of the year we need to maintain a nutritious, varied diet with adequate vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre. We need to ensure we have sufficient - but not excessive - calories, with a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. A diet rich in fresh veges, fruit, whole grains, lean protein - meat, fish, eggs, nuts, tofu and the like - and low fat dairy products will meet most people's needs. Hot soups are often most appreciated in winter to warm us up and keep us well hydrated. A bowl of hot soup packed with veges, lentils, chicken or whatever else you fancy can do you a world of good when it's cold - both to warm your mitts as well as warm you up and nourish you on the inside!
Question: How does the cold weather affect asthma sufferers?
Dr Cindy Pan: Weather changes and cold air can certainly trigger asthma for some people. In addition, colds and respiratory tract infections can exacerbate asthma.
Question: What advice do you have for asthmatics during Winter?
Dr Cindy Pan: Be aware and monitor your asthma, especially when you start getting colds or flus. Talk to your GP about an asthma management plan; ensure you have the medications you need and are clear on how and when to use them. If your asthma symptoms are recurrent, persistent or poorly controlled, seek medical attention without delay.
Interview by Brooke Hunter